In July two Tasmanians had the opportunity to deliver a new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 33i Performance from Melbourne to Sydney. The boat was just days off the ship from France, equipped with mainsail and headsail only, and the main was rigged with a very efficient single line reefing.
“After familiarising ourselves with the gear and equipment on board and purchasing galley utensils and stocking up on food, we left in a light northerly breeze. Having motored through the Rip, we altered course for Wilson’s Promontory under full sail to a light NW breeze and were pleasantly surprised at how easily she slipped through the water.
During that first day and into the night the wind continued to increase and we found the single line reefing on the main very easy to use even with the wind aft. Both seasoned offshore racing yachties with about seven decades of sea miles between us, we still got a thrill handling this responsive machine at up to 9 knots running eastwards across one of the world’s most notorious stretch of water. Bass Strait wasn’t going to let us off too lightly though.
Approaching Wilsons Promontory under jib only, with wind around 30 knots, the autopilot had no trouble keeping course but as it climbed to 40 knots with gusts over 50 around the islands, we resorted to hand-steering. Spume smoked off the surface and we ran under bare poles for several hours before starting the engine and heading into Refuge Cove. Wind on the beam was now so strong that we luffed up in the squalls to ensure the engine would not be starved of oil. Without a dodger at the time, we huddled deep in our wet weather gear as spray completely enveloped us but the yacht was handling the conditions well and soon we were anchored in flat water in Refuge.
The night’s wait proved worthwhile as we collected a light breeze the next day and motor-sailed for extended periods the rest of the way to Pittwater, north of Sydney.
The verdict on the 33i’s performance? We both agreed we would confidently take this yacht offshore, adding a third reef pin in the main.”
By Tony Brewer